Laura Sharman 30 June 2020

Johnson launches planning reforms to help 'build, build, build'

Boris Johnson has announced reforms to the planning system to allow buildings and land to change use without planning permission.

The new measures will allow more commercial properties - including newly vacant shops - to be converted into residential housing without planning permission.

More types of commercial premises will also be allowed to be repurposed without approval from the local council, while builders will no longer need a normal planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes.

The prime minister also confirmed a £12bn affordable homes programme over the next eight years, with 1,500 units being sold to first time buyers at a 30% discount.

Mr Johnson said: ‘Too many parts of this country have felt left behind, neglected, unloved, as though someone had taken a strategic decision that their fate did not matter as much as the metropolis.

’And so I want you to know that this government not only has a vision to change this country for the better, we have a mission to unite and level up – the mission on which we were elected last year.’

However, countryside charity CPRE warned that deregulate the planning system would only lead to more poor-quality places.

Tom Fyans, policy and campaigns director at CPRE, said: 'Transferring decision making power from local councils and communities and handing them to developers is the exact opposite of building back better.

‘The best way to deliver the places that we need, at the pace we need them, is to make it easier for local councils to get local plans in place, and then to hold developers to those plans.'

The announcement was also criticised by Shelter, who said he had also cut the government's housebuilding budget by a third each year.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: 'It's quite incredible that the he thinks he can build more homes with less money.

'“With the housebuilding sector teetering on the brink, we need rapid investment but instead the government has slowed the Affordable Homes Programme for three years. This isn't a new deal, this is a bad deal. Hundreds of thousands of new homes and jobs are at risk.'

Photo: Michael Tubi / Shutterstock.com

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